New evidence in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham significantly undermines the credibility of Johnny Webb, the jailhouse informant whose testimony was instrumental in Willingham’s conviction. Willingham was executed in 2004 for the 1991 arson murder of his three daughters in Corsicana, despite compelling evidence of his innocence, including a much-discredited arson investigation.
Maurice Possley, writing for The Marshall Project, a new nonprofit news organization focused on the criminal justice system, exposes the fact that the man who prosecuted Willingham, John H. Jackson, worked for years “to alter Webb’s conviction, speed his parole, get him clemency and move him from a tough state prison back to his hometown jail.” Possley notes “had such favorable treatment been revealed prior to his execution, Willingham might have had grounds to seek a new trial.” Read the full article in the Washington Post.
The Innocence Project has filed a grievance against Jackson with the State Bar of Texas. A press release from the organization states that “The grievance reveals newly discovered evidence that strongly suggests ethical and possible criminal misconduct by Jackson in covering up a deal with jailhouse informant Johnny Webb” and urges the Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the State Bar of Texas to take disciplinary action against him.
John Jackson provided a 250-word response to CNN with regard to some of the allegations against him (“Texas ex-prosecutor denies wrongdoing in Willingham death penalty,” August 5, 2014). He also provided a response to the Corsicana Sun.
The Dallas Morning News comments on these latest allegations in “Editorial: Allegations against prosecutor in arson case must be examined,” calling the Willingham case “a symbol of Texas justice, with its many faults and excesses.”